Mi­ami’s pitch to Chi­nese: take in water­ways

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Con­vinc­ing Chi­nese to visit Mi­ami re­quires a lot of per­sua­sion and ed­u­ca­tion about Amer­i­can beach and water cul­ture.

“[ Chi­nese] in­ter­est in beaches is min­i­mal. One day at the beach is al­ready ad­e­quate, but [ beaches] are an im­por­tant part of what Mi­ami has to of­fer,” said Bruce Orosz, chair­man of the Greater Mi­ami Con­ven­tion & Vis­i­tors Bu­reau ( GMCVB), Mi­ami’s of­fi­cial mar­ket­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“So when we have Chi­nese vis­i­tors or del­e­ga­tions, we want to take peo­ple to ex­plore by boat, and they come away be­ing amazed that Mi­ami has water­ways that makes nav­i­gat­ing around this town so amaz­ing,” he said.

Of the ma­jor US tourist cities de­vot­ing more mar­ket­ing re­sources to at­tract the Chi­nese, Mi­ami is faced with two quan­daries that other gate­way cities do not have: The city has no non­stop flights to and from any Chi­nese city ( though Orosz said that’s some­thing he and his team are work­ing on), and Mi­ami does not have the same brand recog­ni­tion with Chi­nese trav­el­ers that New York, Los Angeles or even Bos­ton has.

“Last week, I had a guest here from China who’s a fund man­ager and he said he frankly didn’t know what to ex­pect,” Orosz said. “He didn’t re­ally know the depth of what we had to of­fer in this town.”

Be­cause of the lack of di­rect flights, it is dif­fi­cult to mea­sure how many Chi­nese visit Mi­ami, and the tourism agency only has es­ti­mates based on how many Chi­nese tran­sit through Mi­ami’s air­ports.

The Mi­ami mar­ket gen­er­ated more than 55,000 Chi­nese pas­sen­gers in 2014, though that fig­ure also in­cludes those who can be headed to an­other des­ti­na­tion with a lay­over in Mi­ami. Orosz said that since 2014, there has been more and more in­ter­est in Mi­ami from China.

“We’re start­ing to see some in­ter­est and de­sire in the town. There have been [ me­dia ar­ti­cles] about North Mi­ami be­com­ing a des­ti­na­tion in the fu­ture, call it the fu­ture Chi­na­town of Mi­ami,” he said.

“There are acres and acres, and they’re talk­ing to nu­mer­ous Chi­nese in­vestors about try­ing to build a com­mu­nity, so we feel that there’s tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing for­ward with the ex­pan­sion,” said Orosz.

Mi­ami is in­creas­ingly a city of in­ter­est for Chi­nese in­vestors who are shop­ping for real es­tate de­vel­op­ment projects through the fed­eral EB-5 pro­gram, which grants visas for in­vestors and their fam­i­lies who in­vest at least $1 mil­lion ($500,000 in cer­tain ar­eas) and cre­ate at least 10 jobs.

There have been (sto­ries) about North Mi­ami be­com­ing a des­ti­na­tion ... call it the fu­ture Chi­na­town.”

In Novem­ber 2015, the Panorama Tower in Mi­ami, the tallest build­ing on the Eastern Seaboard, re­port­edly re­ceived nu­mer­ous in­quiries from Chi­nese in­vestors in­ter­ested in the de­vel­op­ment.

Orosz says that the GMCVB team is work­ing not only with tour op­er­a­tors but also meeting plan­ners and des­ti­na­tion man­agers to pro­mote Mi­ami as a place of busi­ness and leisure. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives also travel to var­i­ous trade mis­sions to China through­out the year.

“It’s a full cadre of what you would hope for from a tourism per­spec­tive for us to touch as many Chi­nese trav­el­ers as pos­si­ble, so we’re go­ing through the en­tire specter.

“We have ma­te­rial that we dis­trib­ute; we’re host­ing many del­e­ga­tions that are com­ing into town, with the hopes that when they go back to China, with the help of our rep­re­sen­ta­tives, that they’ll con­tinue to pro­mote the ac­tiv­i­ties that we have here in Mi­ami that we feel a Chi­nese con­sumer would re­ally en­joy,” he said.

The GMCVB is de­vel­op­ing a TV pro­gram with a ma­jor Chi­nese tele­vi­sion group that will in­tro­duce Chi­nese view­ers to Mi­ami, though Orosz de­clined to dis­close more de­tails.

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